The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart has established 19 trade
unions in its Chinese outlets since late July, disclosed an
official of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) on
"The negotiations between Wal-Mart and the ACFTU have proved
fruitful. The two sides have agreed to set up trade unions in
Wal-Mart Chinese outlets on a cooperative and harmonious basis and
in line with Chinese laws," an ACFTU official said Friday in an
interview with Xinhua.
The two sides agreed that the candidates for trade union posts
in a Wal-Mart Chinese outlet should be approved by a higher-level
trade union after work staff's nomination.
Then, the work staff will elect, by secret ballot, a chairman,
vice chairpersons and other posts in the trade union committee. The
election outcome should be reported to the higher level trade union
for approval, said the official.
The outlet's manager, vice managers, human resources managers
and their family relatives are not entitled to be trade union
chairpersons, vice chairpersons or trade union committee members,
said the official.
Wal-Mart has made commitments to help China's union authority
establish branches in all its stores in China and strictly perform
the duties written in China's Law on Trade Unions.
Wal-Mart opened its first outlet in China in 1996. Until July 29
this year, no Wal-Mart Chinese outlets had set up trade unions.
The world's leading retailer has some 1.6 million employees in
16 countries and regions. And Wal-Mart's 60 Chinese outlets employ
Wal-Mart has traditionally not allowed trade unions in its
outlets, for which it has been widely criticized by human rights
groups and labor organizations.
With mounting pressure from the ACFTU and the public, Wal-Mart
China backed down in 2004 by saying in a statement that "Should
associates request the formation of a union, Wal-Mart China will
respect their wishes and honor its obligations under China's trade
On July 29, its outlet in Jinjiang City, east China's Fujian
Province, set up a trade union. In the following 20 days, another
18 trade unions were established in Wal-Mart's outlets in the
cities of Shenzhen, Nanjing, Fuzhou, Jinan, Shenyang, Dalian,
Nanchang, Qingdao, Wuhan and Taiyuan.
Joe Hatfield, president of Wal-Mart Asia, recently said he hoped
to establish a good relationship with the ACFTU and local branches
that would be beneficial to Wal-Mart employees and business
"We think it is in line with the Chinese government's efforts to
build a harmonious society," Hatfield added.
The ACFTU has a membership of 150 million and has 1.174 million
branches. In 2006, the union plans to install more than 120,000
branches across the country, with more than 13 million new
One of the major tasks of the ACFTU in 2006 is to push
foreign-funded or transnational companies to unionize, according to
sources with the ACFTU.
Up to date, about 26 percent of China's 150,000-odd
foreign-funded enterprises have established trade unions, with a
total membership of 4.29 million.
(Xinhua News Agency August 19, 2006)